How Digital Music Can Fight Climate Change

Click to see a larger image of the digital music download ecosystem used for this study.

It’s not rocket science: The process of downloading an album to your computer eliminates the energy and carbon emissions required to produce and ship a CD — and for you to drive to the store and buy it.

But researchers at Stanford, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Carnegie Mellon University, including IT energy guru Jonathan Koomey, have crunched the hard data and found that despite the added energy from downloading music via the Internet, in general, buying digital music reduces the energy and carbon dioxide emissions of delivering music by between 40 percent and 80 percent.

The findings are important, because amid the increased attention on how data centers are consuming growing amounts of energy and emitting more CO2, here’s proof that the Internet can  reduce carbon emissions via dematerialization, or replacing atoms with digital bits and decreasing the amount of physical goods created. For more details on the research, check out the story on Earth2Tech.